In honor of the new school year I’ve been experimenting with low oxalate granola bar and energy bar recipes for back-to-school lunchboxes and nutritious breakfasts on the go. These bars have 4 – 5 mg. oxalate per bar, depending on which ingredients you use and how big you make the bars. I was able to make them high fiber, gluten-free, dairy-free, a good source of omega-3s, and pretty dang yummy. An added bonus: these aren’t only fun for kids to eat, they’re fun for kids to make! They resemble an oatmeal bar cookie more than a traditional granola bar because I chose to use milk (or coconut milk) instead of carmelized butter (or coconut oil) and sugar as my binder, but this is what keeps them easy enough for young children to make.
Cameron stirs his low oxalate granola bars.
My boys were able to measure, pour and mix these granola bars with only a little assistance. I had to do the final spreading and baking, but the boys did most of the work themselves. Unfortunately I timed things wrong the first time we made these bars and they were almost cooled and ready to cut at 5:15 when the boys and I came inside from playing. I hadn’t made dinner yet and the boys “needed one” right then, so I cut a couple bars and we had them with milk. Then I cut a couple more bars, added some apple slices, fresh veges and cottage cheese and called it dinner. The hamburgers thawing in my fridge could wait until the next night, but enjoying the boys’ fresh-baked granola bars could not. After all, it’s the daily ritual of sitting down at the dinner table and enjoying each others’ company that’s important to me.
Easy Low Oxalate Granola Bars
2 cups GF rolled oats
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
3/4 cup raisins OR dried cherries
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
3/4 cup flaked or coursely shredded coconut
1/4 cup isolated protein powder (whey, rice or pea), optional
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 15 ounce can condensed milk (OR 1 can coconut milk*)
1/2 cup honey or sweetener of your choice**
Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees and grease a 9 x9 inch baking pan. Combine the oats, flax seeds, raisins, pumpkin seeds, coconut, protein powder and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the milk and sweetener. Pour the milk mixture over the oat mixture and stir until just moistened. Press the granola into the prepared pan, then bake for about 30 minutes until the top is golden brown. (If you do not have a 9 x 9 inch pan, you can press the granola into 9 or 10 inches of a 13 x 9 inch pan and leave the rest empty).
Let the granola bars cool completely, then cut it into 14-18 bars (about 1 inch by 4.5 inch each). Store the bars in an air-tight container for up to one week.
*A Note about Coconut Milk: If your brand of coconut milk is thick and creamy, this recipe should work well. If it is really “liquidy” this recipe may work better if you add 1/8 cup coconut flour.
** A Note about Sweeteners: Honey, maple syrup, sugar, Splenda or 1 teaspoon liquid stevia are all low oxalate (or very low oxalate) and all work in this recipe, but honey and maple syrup add the best flavor. If you use liquid stevia, these bars will not brown. You may want to add a teaspoon of honey to help the bars brown or set a timer for doneness (note: do not use powdered stevia–it is high oxalate). You may also want to experiment with different levels of sweetness. When I make these bars with extra raisins and dried apples, I reduce the sweetener.
Oxalate Note: Many of the ingredients in these granola bars are medium oxalate, including rolled oats (11.1 mg./half cup), ground flax seed (6.6 mg./half cup), dried cherries (5.2 mg./half cup) and some brands of coconut milk (coconut milk ranges from 0-6.6 mg./half cup). Condensed milk, flaked coconut, salt and honey are all very low oxalate (less than 1.0 mg./serving), while raisins (3.8 mg. /half cup), pumpkin seeds (2.6 mg./tablespoon) and whey protein powder (2.4 mg./half cup) are low oxalate. (Pea powder is 5.4 mg./scoop while rice protein is 6.5 mg./half cup). These bars have about 4 – 5 mg. oxalate per bar, depending on which ingredients you use and how big you make the bars.
Variations: Try any combination of dried apples, dried bananas, roasted chestnuts or Nestles premium white morsels, instead of the raisins, pumpkin seeds and coconut. One really yummy combination is 3/4 cup dried apple pieces, 3/4 cup raisins and 1/2 cup coconut. (Your total add-ins should equal about 1.5 – 2 cups.)
Traditional Granola Bars: You may also wish to make a more traditional granola bar or granola. Do this by omiting the milk. Toast the oats and pumpkin seeds on a cookie sheet at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Meanwhile, put 1/2 cup butter (or coconut oil) in a skillet on low heat. When the butter melts, add 1/2 cup brown sugar, honey or maple syrup and stir until the mixture carmalizes (liquid stevia and Splenda will not work). Pour all the other ingredients (except the milk) in a bowl, add the carmel mixture and the toasted oat mixture, and stir until just combined. Press the granola into a greased 9 x 9 inch pan and bake for about 30 minutes for traditional granola bars OR spoon the mixture onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for about 25 -30 minutes, stopping and stirring the mixture every 8-10 minutes during the cooking for traditional granola. Cool completely before cutting the bars or storing.
Update on 9/28/11: You may need to use more butter if you put in extra add-ins or tend to use rounded scoops like I do. Yesterday, I made traditional granola and had to add an extra tablespoons of oil to make it work.
Other Diets: These bars may be appropriate for gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian and controlled carbohydrate diets with the proper modifications.